“There are some fish that cannot be caught. It’s not that they are bigger or stronger than other fish, they are just touched with something extra.”
What does Heaven look like to you? Do you believe? For me, it is summed up in a gorgeous movie, brought to us by the normally dark and enchanting imagination of Tim Burton. Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace, Big Fish is a delight to the eyes and for me, a salve to my suffering soul.
Films have a way of reaching into your heart, sometimes terrifying, causing rage, bringing forth tears of of laughter and tears of sorrow and hope. One such film that is very special to me, and has continually fed my soul since its release in my neck of the woods in December of 2003, is Big Fish.
This film came at a time for me when I was searching to reconcile events in my life to which I had no answers and no way of finding them. Nothing was available to quiet the voices in my mind, and though I was growing life within me, a constant source of joy, still I struggled to make sense.
As I was searching for my Path, this film made its appearance. Boasting an all-star cast including Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange, most recently of American Horror Story, Albert Finney, Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi, and the incomparable Helena Bonham Carter, and too many others to name, it brought to the forefront all that I could wish of a movie and a message.
This is an extraordinary tale of Edward Bloom, fantastically played by Ewan McGregor (Jack and the Giant Slayer) and the film icon Albert Finney (Skyfall) a man who tells the story of his life in a series of tall tales. At first, it appears the story of a man who cannot see the truth of his life without the elaborate fabrications, but in truth, they are the tales of a man who owned a most wonderful imagination, a word weaver who could intertwine fact and fiction in order to make life more interesting for his son, Will, played by Billy Crudup (Eat Love Pray), a sceptic of his own making.
“Kept in a small bowl, the gold fish will remain small…a giant man can’t have an ordinary life”
We all dream of making our place in the world, and Mr. Burton has created this marvelous film in a most delightful way. Cinematically stunning, it has fed me with just what you would expect from Mr. Burton, a delicious mix of darkness and light, living trees, giants, Siamese twins, and adventure enough to make any spirit soar with pleasure.
Edward Bloom sets out to make his name in the small town of Ashton, Alabama, having seen his death in the eye of an old woman perceived to be a witch. He chooses, as a child, after seeing his demise in her magical eye, to make his life as big as it can be. He wishes to be a Big Fish in the small pond of Ashton, then on into the world where his adventures grow bigger and bigger. A lesson to all of us, your dreams are only as big as you perceive yourself.
Along with Carl, played by the late played by the late Matthew McGrory, who had roles such memorable films as The Devil’s Rejects, and House of 1000 Corpses, takes the road less travelled, down a defunct road apart from the paved highway, on his way to carve his name in the walls of his life.
It is here that he discovers the idyllic if creepy town of Spectre, where shoes hang on the wires, and the green lawn is more than your eye can stand. He meets a kindred spirit, Norther Winslow, (Steve Buscemi), a poet and dreamer who became a legend in his mind by leaving the small town life for greener pastures. Spectre appears the perfect town, where everything tastes better and the old time morals reign supreme. Edward discovers the trap of life, the dangers of becoming stagnant, and chooses to continue on the path of his extraordinary life, rather than stay in the safety of the known.
“The biggest fish in the river gets that way by never being caught.”
As Edward lays dying of cancer, the prodigal son returns home, with his 7 months pregnant wife, Josephine (Marion Coulliard) to help his mother care for him in his final days. During this time, the story of his life is told, in a series of eye catching scenes, and spellbinding monologues.
We learn of the journey to find the love of his life (Jessica Lange) , the mate of his soul, how his experiences never cause him to lose his childlike view of the world, even when trapped behind enemy line during the war, and how each and every experience in his life, are drawn together to create a beautiful tapestry.
As his son, Will (Billy Crudup) learns more of the truths behind his father’s tales, he learns that there is always a nugget of truth to each story told. The people of Spectre summed up by the incredible role played by Helena Bonham Carter (Les Miserables, Dark Shadows) we learn of the desiccation of the town, and how life simply does not stay stationary. Through each and every investigation Will performs, the knowledge of how imagination can add flavor to the most boring life.
Come the end of the film, even now, as I find the words to describe the beauty of what I am seeing, I find myself weeping with hope and joy. Death comes to us all, in its own time, and my fervent hope is that when my time comes, as I find myself in the clearing at the end of my Path, that each and every one of my beloved will be waiting for me as they wait for Edward at the end of his. Smiling faces, cheers at the life I’d lead, and simply gladness to see me.
This, I hope for myself and for each and every one of you. For truly, we are only as big as the bowl we choose to live in, and your life is only as mundane as the words you chose to describe them with